The worst stress, Pickering says, is caused by situations that offer people little power over their daily activities.
“It’s the control that seems to matter the most. You might have a lot of work, but if you’re able to control the rate at which you have to deal with it, you’re okay. It’s when you feel helpless that it gets bad. You drop into a depressed state. You have much higher cortisol levels.” — “The Ecology of Stress”
Stress is very much about the biochemistry of cortisol. With too much stress, those invoked hormones cease to be a positive force and begin to do damage:
Overloads of cortisol will damage your memory, hurt your immune system, and increase the size of your gut. Stress-related spikes in your blood pressure have their own overload effect. Though no one is entirely sure how short-term increases affect your long-term health, doctors worry that if your system is ramped up for too long, it begins to burn out.
The article goes on to state that those with the lowest status suffer the most. The article is about the work world; non-contributing people like me are other, not even measured with the same ruler. A similar metaphor is the exclusion of women from the macho ruler.
Oh, which reminds me, my hearing to appeal the denial of my disability claim, the original denial was in November 2002, was postponed for a third time, again for the same reason, broken videoconferencing equipment.